Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gleefully Macabre Tales by Jeff Strand

One thing I like is humor, but I rarely find any books that really satisfy my peculiar brand of humor. Nelson DeMille's classic The Gold Coast and John Grisham's The Rainmaker (the movie isn't funny, but the book made me laugh my ass off in parts because the book is as hilarious as often as it is dramatic) really tickled my funny bone more than any other books to come to mind. DeMille's John Corey books have also managed to inspire a giggle or two from me. So has the odd Dean Koontz book... or the Dean Koontz Odd book. See what I did there?

But Koontz's humor seems a bit off to me. I think he's far too aware of how funny he thinks he is, but he plays it too straight-laced and takes himself too seriously and prevents himself from actually just being funny. His humor just doesn't have an edge. 

Jeff Strand on the other hand is just plain weird. I like weird. I don't know if he's trying to impress me with his weirdness or trying to come down to my pitifully low standards of what ideal weirdness should be, but whatever he is doing works. If it just so happens that he is doing all of this for my benefit (and I do know that I am, in fact, so awesome that everyone should curb their books to my taste to honor me) then I'd like to know who told the twisted S.O.B. about me and then buy him or her a beer for doing so.

I don't particularly enjoy reading short stories. It just seems like a chore to me (and like any chore, I don't do it as often as I should). Because, well, short story collections just scream of ego to me. Much like double albums. Yeah, I like a few of them and even love a few, but double albums often include some serious ego binging much like short story collections do. It's just my opinion that not everything should be collected and that a little bit more of a judicious eye could really save a lot of collections (and double albums) from being done in by overly-ambitious douchebags but otherwise talented people.

Of course, just about everything seems to have been collected into Jeff Strand's Gleefully Macabre Tales, but not entirely everything. All the really, really atrocious stuff has been left out and thank God for that. This collection is sort of like War and Peace if War and Peace were actually a book called Gleefully Macabre Tales and if it was by Jeff Strand and not by that other guy who wrote War and Peace. In other words, it's a masterpiece.

So buy this book. Or steal it. I don't care. Just read it. Buy some copies for your pals and then give some copies to some homeless people under the condition that they don't burn the pages in order to keep warm. Let's make this book go platinum, by God.

In all seriousness, I'm not even done with all the stories. Those that I've read have been a lot of fun, though. And they are short, too. 33 stories and all of them (so far) pretty much live up to the bill of being a short story with a hint of humor and a hint of horror. Kudos to this man's editor and therapist (I'm assuming they have to be one in the same because I couldn't imagine dealing with a guy who can create these stories without having a couch, a red pen, and a six pack of some god awful cheap beer at the ready). 

Here are a few glimpses of what is lurking within the pages of this book:

The Three Little Pigs - What Walt Disney didn't tell you about...
Socially Awkward Moments with an Aspiring Lunatic - Imagine if a guy like Woody Allen suddenly decided he wanted to kill people and you'd probably have something like this...
Werewolf Porno - Well, it is about what you think it's about...
Glimpses - Imagine Jeff Strand writing a story that is actually serious... I know you can't but it's possible and it's pretty good. 

I'm sure you are undoubtedly enthralled by my brilliant description above so do yourself a favor and buy it. I was just kidding when I told you to steal it. Honest.

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